“Writers are liars, my dear, surely you know that by now? And yet, things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.” ― Neil Gaiman, Dream Country
Like pretty much everyone reading this, I engage in social media. Or with social media, I’m not sure. Anyway, I visit with friends and family on Facebook mostly, with an occasional visit to Twitter and Instagram. I enjoy groups about plants, fossils, rocks, antiques and jumping spiders. Recently I joined (after getting approval) a local community page. The participants mostly post road conditions, plus rants about bad drivers and dogs on the loose. But there are occasional tidbits about the local goings-on that I’d otherwise probably not know about.
I’ll admit that I have a thing about littering. Littering really ticks me off, and always has. I keep a grabber and bag in my car to clean up our little county road when someone decides they prefer a clean car to a clean planet and I gripe as I pick up after them. I even made a sign that encourages people to help us keep Oregon beautiful (which I swear seems to be working!).
So anyway, back to lying. I was driving behind a state highway vehicle one day when a soda can came flying out of it. Not under it, over it. And nobody was driving in front of the truck. I was so incensed that I stopped at the intersection and took a photo of the truck as it headed down the highway. Then I posted the photo on the community page with a comment about what I had witnessed. I also turned them in to their superior.
And that’s when I was reminded that writers are liars. A number of people responded to the post in anger. Most were angry about the littering. But a couple were angry at me. They said I imagined the incident, or that the can was already in the road and they ran over it but I decided to embellish the story for attention. And then one of the admins for the page posted a photo from my blog. Her comment was, “Apparently you have a goal of making up stories, at least according to your blog.” Oh, snap!
When I stopped laughing, I responded and gave her time to read and retort, then deleted the entire discussion. It was stupid of me to post my little rant in the first place. Hopefully someone said something to these workers and they will think twice about littering again. I’ll never know.
Meanwhile, are writers really liars? I write mostly nonfiction these days, which is factual, but I still love writing fiction as well. I’m currently working on another Boxcar mystery, and I have two fictional picture books making the rounds. So it’s true I guess: I make it all up! All lies!
So, of course writers lie, after all, as Stephen King points out, “Fiction is the truth inside the lie, and the truth of this fiction is simple enough: the magic exists.” That’s writing fiction.
But for the record, I don’t lie in real life, especially about litterbugs. And I’ll turn you in if I see you do it. That’s the truth.